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Next generation of Saugatuck running stars bloom

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The next generation of Saugatuck High School distance running stars is surfacing in eighth-grader Nik Pettinga and seventh-grader Max Sharnas.

Last weekend Pettinga, whose older brothers Jake and Zach were multiple all staters in track and cross country, won an elite middle school mile race at the University of Michigan. His best mile time is 4:57.

Sharnas, a year younger, has a 4:54 best mile time.

The pair finished 1-2 in all of last season’s Southwestern Athletic Conference middle school meets and at several others. They did the same at the Saugatuck-Douglas Mt. Baldhead Challenge Sept. 10 last year.

“Max plays basketball,” coach Rick Bauer said, “but finds time to run with Nik a few times a week. Nik has been running after school and all summer with his older brothers since he was in sixth grade.

“It is pretty amazing what has happened in this town with distance running,” Bauer said.